The Eurovision Song Contest Rules

IMPORTANT! These rules are out of date as they are from 1997.
They are presented purely so you can get an idea of the behind-the-scenes workings of the contest.

I will try to locate up to date rules. Until then, here are a few changes that have been implemented:

In 1997, this document was downloaded in four parts from
It is presented below, without permission from the EBU - and without prejudice to current rules. The four parts have been joined to be a single document and partially extracted from its tabled formatting, modified to use 80% of the width of the document. No other changes have been made.


Section links:
    I. Participants
   II. Aim
  III. Organisation
   IV. National Method of Selection
    V. Criteria for Admission
   VI. Preview Presentation of Songs
  VII. Performance of Songs
 VIII. Orchestra
   IX. Scores, Recordings and Texts
    X. Running Order
   XI. Voting Procedure
  XII. Dress Rehearsal
 XIII. The Votes
  XIV. Final Classification
   XV. The Grand Prix
  XVI. Financing
 XVII. Broadcasts
XVIII. Commercial Exploitation
  XIX. Guarantee
   XX. Final Clauses


Rules of the 42nd Eurovision Song Contest 1997


Under the auspices of the EUROPEAN BROADCASTING UNION (EBU) and as part of the television programme exchanges known as "Eurovision", the EBU member organisations of Austria (ORF), Bosnia-Herzogovina (RTVBH), Croatia (HRT), Cyprus (CY/CBC), Denmark (DR), Estonia (EE/ETV), France (GRF), Germany (ARD), Greece (ERT), Hungary (HU/MTV), Iceland (RUV), Ireland (RTÉ), Italy (RAI), Malta (MT/PBS), Netherlands (NOS), Norway (NRK), Poland (PRT/TVP), Portugal (RTP), Russia (OTR), Slovenia (RTVSLO), Spain (TVE), Sweden (STR/SVT), Switzerland (SSR), Turkey (TRT), and the United Kingdom (BBC), 25 countries, herinafter called the "participants", have decided, under the conditions of the present Rules, to take active part in the:

42nd Eurovision Song Contest 1997

1.Participants are free to withdraw up to 31st October 1996, after which date they shall be liable for their shares even if the subsequently decide not to enter a song.

II. Aim

1. The purpose of this Contest is to stimulate the output of original songs of high quality in the field of popular music, by encouraging competition among authors and composers through the international comparison of their works.

2. Only works (Words and Music) not published as sheet music, or issued as or included in a commercial record, cassette, disc, film, videogram etc. until after the national selection but not before 3 February 1997 may be performed at the European Final.

3. The Contest is mainly intended for broadcast on television by Eurovision members.

III. Organisation

The organisation of the Contest involves:

1. The selection by each participant - preferably by means of a national competition- of the best possible song

2. The familiarising of the public with the songs in advance of the European Final by:

  • the provision of recordings on videotape or film of all the participantsí entries, which must reach the producing organization by 25 March 1997 and which shall be injected from the producing organisation on 9 April 1997 for simultaneous recording by all participants,

  • the subsequent broadcast of these recordings by interested participants on dates convenient to each country, between 12 and 26 April 1997 (cf Article VI)

  • The public performance before a European jury of all songs presented by the participants during a live transmission of the European Final on the results of which shall be awarded the:

IV. National Method of Selection

The national method of selection shall be decided by each participant as it thinks fit. However, the works selected and the national method of selection must conform to the present Rules, and all national competitions and selections must be completed by 10 March 1997.

V. Criteria For Admission to the European Final

1. In addition to the member which presented the winning song in the 1996 Contest (RTE), those 24 members which obtained the highest average of points over the last four years (total of points divided by the number of times what a country has participated) shall qualify for participation. Where such average is identical between two or more members, the total number of points scored in the last year (1996, or, where still necessary, 1995) shall be decisive.

2. For 1998 and the following years, the 35 participants shall be composed as follows:

  • The member which presented the winning song in the previous year.

  • The 17 members (other than the member at (a) above) which obtained the highest average of points over the preceding five years (total of points divided by the number of times that the country has participated) . Where such average is identical between two or three members, the total number of points scored in the most recent year in which the member participated shall be decisive.

  • For the 7 remaining places, the members which were not admitted in the previous year but which have conformed with all other rules relating to participation shall qualify. The principle underlying this system of rotation is that all candidates can take part in the final at least once in every two years.

  • In circumstances where members withdraw participation or where additional members express in writing a desire to participate, the Bureau of the Television Committee shall in its absolute discretion determine the final list of participants.

VI. Preview Presentation of the Songs for the European Final

1. All participants shall provide, free of charge, for use by all other participants, video recordings of films of up to three minutesí duration of their entreis. The production shown on these recordings may be of any kind chosen by the originating organisation, but the actual singers of the songs must by the same as those appearing in the European Final.

2. These recordings must reach the producing organisation by 25 March 1997. All entries, including that of the producing organisation itself, shall be transmitted by the latter on 9 April 1997 for recording by the other participants.

3. Participants wishing to broadcast such recordings must broadcast all of them, provided that they respect their national laws and regulations, but they must present them in two or more separate programmes, not in one single programme.

4. The songs may be shown in programmes devoted entirely to Song Contest entries or incorporated into light entertainment programmes.

5. The following conditions must be observed.

  • The songs must be broadcast some time between 12 and 26 April 1997.
  • The songs must be announced as entries of the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest, and in each case the names of the organisation and country entering the song must be given.

6. Each participant shall be exclusively responsible for all expenses incurred for the production of its song, and for the provision of the recording or film to be injected.

7. The cost of distributing the recordings of film over the Eurovision network for the preview presentation and the European Final (together with the possible experses of the EBU Permanent Services and the injecting organisation) shall be shared in accordance with the existing Eurovision rules.

VII. Performance of the Songs

1. The European Final shall consist chiefly of the successive presentation by the performer or performers of the songs selected under the conditions defined in Article IV above.

2. The songs must be sung in the language of (one of the) languages of the participating country, failing which the entry shall be disqualified from the European final.

3. Short quotations from another language are permitted on the following conditions: no longer than a single phrase, repeated a maximum of three times so as not to dominate in the performance of the song (cf. Article XIII, para. 5(a) and Article XX).

4. A song may be performed by a maximum of six performers. To be admitted, performers must attain the age of 16 in the year of the Contest.

5. The performance of each song must not exceed three minutes. The producing organisation shall be responsible for checking whether this provision has been observed. If, at the end of the second rehearsal, any country's song exceeds three minutes, the producing organisation shall consult the EBU Scrutineer and together they may, at their sole discretion, qualify that country's song from the competition. In such circumstances, the head of delegation of the country concerned shall be informed in writing of any decision.

6. The producing organisation has full responsibility for the programme of the broadcast within the terms of these Rules.

7. The producing organisation shall be obliged to produce the programme within the duration specified by the EBU Television Committee (i.e. no longer than three hours).

8. The producing organisation shall present its proposed format to the Bureau of the EBU Light Entertainment Group no later than eight weeks prior to the European Final to ensure compliance with these Rules.

9. Amplifying equipment shall not be allowed on stage.

10. A comprehensive drum-kit shall be provided by the producing organisation for use by participants. Private drum-kits shall not be allowed.

11. The score for each song may make use of part or all of the live orchestra provided by the producing organisation.

12. The use of backing tracks is permitted on condition that they are instrumental only.

13. The pitch shall be 442.

VIII. Orchestra

1. An orchestra composed of a specified number of musicians shall be placed at the disposal of the conductors and performers by the producing organisation. The detailed composition of the orchestra shall be forwarded through the EBU Permanent Services in Geneva to all participants by 21 February 1997 for suggestions concerning any possible increase in the number of certain instruments or the addition of new instruments. Such suggestions should reach the producing organisation by 11 March 1997. After consideration of all such suggestions, the producing organisation shall decide on the final composition of the orchestra, and this information shall be forwarded through the Permanent Services to all participants on 13 March 1997. After that date, no increase can be made in the number of musicians, or in the number and type of instruments.

2. The use the participants intend to make of the orchestra put at their disposal and all changes to, or replanning of, the performance of individual entries must be determined before the dress rehearsal.

3. The conductor appointed by the producing organisation shall be in charge of the preliminary run-throughs and rehearsals of the songs submitted; he/she shall be available without fee to those participants which do not send their own conductors for the orchestral accompaniment of their songs at the European Final.

IX. Scores-Recordings- Texts and Performers of the Songs-Official Representatives.

Each of the participants must make available to the producing organisation:

1. By 19 March 1997 at the latest:

(a) The score of the song to be performed, adapted to the composition of the orchestra made available by the producing organisation; this material shall be returned after the Contest.

(b) A sound recording of its entry.

(c) The text of the song in its original language, together with English and French translations, which are free but correspond to the original text, for duplication and distribution to the commentators. A copy of the text and translations should also be sent by the same date to the EBU Permanent Services in Geneva, which shall duplicate them from the relaying organisations and the juries.

2. From 26 April to 3 May 1997:

(a) The performer of performers designated by it to present the song, and its own conductor if desired. The producing organisation shall draw up a staggered timetable for rehearsals so as to make the stay of foreign conductors and performers in its country as short as possible.

(b) An official representative appointed by it to attend the European Final. He/she shall be responsible for liaison with the producing organisation and the EBU Scrutineer and should be empowered to take last-minute decisions on behalf of his/her organisation.

X. Order of Presentation of the Songs

The order of presentation of the songs for the European Final shall be determined by a drawing of lots among the participants (cf. Article V) on 28 November 1996 in the presence of a representative of the EBU Permanent Services.

XI. European Jury and Voting Procedure - Notary

1. For the European Final, each participant shall appoint a national jury of 16 members. The names of the members of the national juries (the latter together referred to as the "European Jury") must not be disclosed until the day of the European Final at the earliest, that is not before 3 May 1997.

Each national jury must be composed 50% of persons able to demonstrate their interest in popular music and representative of the public of their country, and 50% of professionals. There should be an equal number of men and women on each jury, eight jurors aged below 30 and eight above 30 years of age. The eight professional jurors can be composers, authors, singers, musicians, conductors, journalists in the light music sphere, or radio/TV producers, but only two of them may be connected with a record company or music publisher.

Members of staff of participants, or any person currently on contract to those organisations in the field of light entertainment, must be excluded from the jury. The composition of these juries may be completely different from that of the jury or juries appointed by participants for their national contests (cf. Article IV) organised for the purpose of selecting the song to be presented.

2. Each jury shall have a chairperson, appointed by the relevant participant from its own staff, who shall be responsible for counting the votes after each song has been performed, and for allocating points accordingly for the European Final results, after the last song has been sung. He/she shall be assisted by a secretary who shall act as spokesperson and be responsible for communicating the jury's final points, clearly and distinctly in English or in French, when requested to do so by the producing organisation's presenter.

3. Each participant should offer its national jury the possibility of viewing the TV transmission of the European Final on TV sets giving the best possible reception. Each participant undertakes to cut off reception of the programme sound and vision while the points of other national juries are being announced until after its own jury's final points have been transmitted. Only the secretary to the jury may listen to the international programme sound on headphones in order to hear when the presenter calls on his/her country to allocate its points. Viewers must be informed of this stipulation during the broadcast by the presenter and/or the commentators.

4. Each national party must sit in its own country in the presence of a notary, or similar official, whose task shall be to ensure respect on the above rules and to collect the completed ballot papers and send them to the EBU Permanent Services in Geneva, where they shall be filed in the archives.

5. After 15 minutes of voting, the last five organisations in the voting procedure shall deliver their votes off-air, in order to facilitate verification of the final result. These votes shall be announced on-air according to normal procedure.

XII. Final Dress Rehearsal- Voting Rehearsal by the National Juries

1. The national juries shall assemble for the final dress rehearsal on 3 May 1997, the actual day of the Contest.

2. The juries shall receive the sound and vision of the final dress rehearsal of each song presented. They shall then hold a rehearsal of the voting procedure according to instructions issued by the EBU Permanent Services.

3. Each participant shall make a recording of the final dress rehearsal. During the break between the end of that rehearsal and the broadcast, the juries may view/listen to this recording if they wish.

4. Each participant shall be required to order the circuits for the voting procedure as specified by the EBU Operations Department in agreement with the producing organisation.

5. The final dress rehearsal shall be produced in full and under the same conditions as the European Final.

XIII. Final Vote By The European Jury

At the time of the transmission of the European Final, the European Jury is composed of all the national juries assembled in their respective countries under the conditions laid down in Article XI. The voting shall take place as follows:

1. Each member of each national jury shall award from 1 to 10 votes to each song, excluding the song presented by the participant which as appointed him/her. Abstentions shall not be allowed.

2. The members of the national juries shall register their votes for each song, as soon as it has been sung, on secret voting papers which shall be collected by the secretary.

3. There shall be an interval of at least three minutes after the performance of the last song. In these three minutes, the chairperson of each national jury shall add up the number of votes obtained by each song. He/she shall allocate 12 points to the song gaining the most votes, 10 points to the song gaining the second highest number of votes, 8 points to the song gaining the third highest number of votes, 7 points to the next, and so on down to 1 point for the song gaining the tenth highest number of votes. The secretary to the jury shall stand by to make the public announcement of these results (cf. Article XI).

4. Should there be a tie for any of the above positions, the order of the tying songs shall be ascertained by show of hands by the 16 jury member. If two or more songs tie for the same place, and if there is still a tie after the show of hands, the final order shall be decided by the vote of the youngest member of the jury.

5. A song shall be disqualified:

(a) if more than a single phrase is sung in any language other than the language or one of the languages of the country of the participant presenting it (cf. Article VII);

(b) if the performer(s))) depart(s) from the planned transmission as rehearsed at the final rehearsal, and thereby cause(s) disturbance to the programme.

The decision of disqualification is taken by the EBU Scrutineer after consultation with the executive producer.

Such disqualifications shall mean that the jury of the country in question shall not be allowed to vote, and the song itself shall receive not votes from the other national juries.

XIV. Final Classification

1. The points allocated by the national juries must be announced in ascending order, beginning with the minimum number of points (1) and ending with the maximum (12). Thus, the attribution of points shall take place in the following order: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12.

2. When called upon to announce the final points allocated by his/her national jury, the secretary of that jury shall state, in English or in French, the name of the country for which he/she is speaking and shall announce, in ascending order, how its jury's points have been awarded.

3. The producing organisation shall provide a suitable scoreboard in full view of the audience on which the cumulative points for each song shall be displayed as they are announced by the secretaries for the national juries.

4. Any on-screen identification of the provider of the computing service shall strictly comply with the following conditions:

(a) identification may only appear at the same time as a picture of the scoreboard,

(b) there shall be a maximum of 4 identifications, of a maximum of 5 seconds each,

(c) the firm's logo may be faithfully reproduced with the original lettering and colours. The name of the firm shall be in the same colour as the names of the countries on the scoreboard,

(d) the maximum number of television lines utilised for the identification shall be 10 in 625 lines standard. The identification shall appear at the bottom of the screen.

5. The total number of points and the final classification of the songs shall be established when the announcements of all the juries have been completed.

6. A representative of the EBU Permanent Services, in the capacity of Scrutineer for the European Jury, shall satisfy himself/herself as to the correctness of the voting operations leading up to the final classification. He/she shall have the responsibility of making any required decisions in the course of the ballot and of giving any necessary instructions to the presenter and the scoreboard operator(s).

XV. Grand Prix

1. The song obtaining the highest number of points is awarded the Grand Prix Of The 1997 European Song Contest

2. Should there be a tie for the first place, the Grand Prix shall be awarded to the song that has obtained the highest score (12 points) the most often. If the winner cannot be determined using this procedure, then the number of times 10 points have been awarded shall be the deciding factor.

3. Should two or more songs still tie for the first place, even after this calculation, both/all such songs shall share the Eurovision Grand Prix.

4. The final result shall be announced immediately, and the transmission of the European Final shall end with a further performance of the winning song or songs.

5. The member organisation having presented the winning song shall produce the Eurovision Song Contest the following year. Should there be a tie, the organisations concerned shall agree among themselves, in consultation with the Bureau of the TV Light Entertainment Group and the EBU Television Department, on the producer of the next Eurovision Song Contest. If not agreement is possible, lots shall be drawn.

6. Trophies shall be designed by the producing organisation and presented to the composer(s) and the author(s) having created the winning song(s). A trophy shall also be presented to the performer(s) of the winning song(s).

XVI. Financing

1. All participants (other than the producing organisation) shall pay to the EBU Permanent Services, as a contribution to the producing organisation's production costs as well as to the EBU co-ordination costs, a participation fee fixed by the EBU Television Committee.

2. The members which were not admitted in 1997 but have announced their desire to participate in 1998 have to broadcast the 1997 Contest and therefore are obliged to pay a participation fee corresponding to 50% of what their fee would have been in case of participation of the 1997 Contest.

3. Any other television organisations entitled to broadcast the European Final (cf. Article XVII 3.) shall pay to the EBU a broadcast fee, agreed with the EBU Permanent Services.

4. All expenses incurred in organising and broadcasting the European Final, over and above the total participation and broadcast fees, shall be borne by the producing organisation, with the exception of:

(a) All the expenses incurred by each participation (such as fees and travel and subsistence costs for the conductor, performer or performers, commentator, jurors, official representatives, etc.), which shall be the full responsibility of each respective participant and cannot be refunded.

(b) The cost of relaying the European Final over the Eurovision network (together with the corresponding expenses incurred by the EBU Permanent Services), which shall be divided in accordance with the existing sharing rules.

5. Each participant bears its own costs related to the national contest.

XVII. Broadcasts Of The European Final

1. The European Final, produced in accordance with the applicable Eurovision rules (especially as regards advertising and sponsorship), shall be transmitted on 3 May 1997 from 19.00 to approx. 22.00 GMT in its entirety as a live continuous programme over the Eurovision network.

2. All participants shall broadcast the European Final live.

The same shall apply to candidates for participation in 1998 (cf. Article V 2. (c) above), except that if for imperative scheduling reasons a live broadcast should not be possible, a deferred broadcast shall be carried out within 24 hours.

Thereafter, within 30 calendar days of the date of the European Final, all participants and candidates for 1998 shall be entitled to repeat the broadcast wholly or in part, an unlimited number of times.

3. Subject to payment of a broadcast fee (cf. Article XVI), the European Final may also be broadcast live or as a deferred relay by Eurovision members in other countries and by EBU associate members located in the European Broadcasting Area.

4. Notwithstanding the foregoing, all Eurovision members shall be entitled to news access for the purpose of reporting in their regularly scheduled news bulletins on the result of the European Final.

5. Sound broadcasting organisations throughout the world may broadcast the European Final live or deferred. However, in countries where the EBU has an active member organisation or organisations, this applies only to such organisation or organisations. If in a given country no EBU member organisation chooses to broadcast, another broadcaster in the same country may be authorised to do so.

6. In agreement with the producing organisation, the European Final may also be broadcast, live or deferred, by television organisations located outside the European Broadcasting Area, whether EBU members or not.

7. The deferred transmissions referred to in 3, 5 and 6 above must take place within 30 calendar days of the date of the European Final.

8. Organisations choosing to make a commercial break between the end of the last song performed and the beginning of the voting procedure are not entitled to broadcast, wholly or in part, the entertainment act presented by the producing organisation during the interval.

9. After the deadline referred to in 7 above, participants as well as any other members which did not qualify for participation under the conditions laid down in Article V above and/or which have declared their intention to participate in the following year's Contest (cf. Article V 2. (c) above) shall continue to be entitled, without any limitation in time, and in accordance with the applicable Rules on Use of the Eurovision Signal, to use extracts from the European Final not exceeding five minutes' total duration (but no more than two minutes per song) in any of their television programmes.

XVIII. Commercial Exploitation

1. Commercial exploitation of the Song Contest in any form (such as audio or video cassettes or discs, merchandising) shall be arranged by the producing organisation. Each exploitation will be arranged in agreement with the Permanent Services in order to ensure the positive image of the Song Contest.

2. Each participating organisation shall guarantee the right for such exploitation when contracting with their authors, performers, publishers, producers,.....

3. Use of the name or logo for the EBU or of Eurovision shall be subject to the prior written approval of the EBU Permanent Services.

XIX. Guarantee

Each participant, by the very fact of entering a song in the Contest as a whole, shall guarantee that it has obtained all the necessary authorisations from all the rightholders concerned. Accordingly, it shall indemnify all organisations concerned against any claim whatsoever from authors, performers, publishers, producers or any other persons or entities in respect of any of the broadcasts or other used of the songs referred to in Articles VI, XVII and XVIII.

XX. Final Clauses - Sanctions

1. By the fact of entering a song for the European Final of this Contest, each participant thereby accepts these Rules, which apply to the event as a whole.

2. A participant may be sanctioned if it

- does not comply with the present Rules (e.g. not respecting duration or original language of the song);

- withdraws from the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest later than 31 October 1996

- does not broadcast the European Final in accordance with Article XVII para 2;

- inserts advertising items or sponsorship messages during the broadcast, except in the section of the programme between the end of the performance of the last song and the start of the voting procedure (cf. Article XVII para.8).

3. Any sanction shall be pronounced by the TV Committee, following a proposal by the Bureau of the TV Light Entertainment Group. It shall be proportionate to the damage or prejudice caused by the EBU, the producing organisation or the reputation of the Song Contest, shall have a deterrent effect and shall in no case amount to more than exclusion from the Song Contest for two consecutive years.


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